South Africa — Family success

wildabeestLSON Managing Editor Conor Harrison recently returned from a trip to South Africa. He kept a journal of the trip and, for the next few days, we will publish his notes from the hunt.

5.20.12

Whitey and I are back in “the zoo” blind for another go this morning.

Not a lot moving until about 9 a.m., when someone flipped the switch and animals began converging. We are covered up with waterbuck and nyala — nothing new there.

Plenty of warthogs also coming to the water, which only reminds me of my poor shot yesterday.

Around 11, a herd of zebra approach the water, along with several good wildabeest bulls. As the zebra get within 20 yards, the wind swirls and the zebra, notoriously sketchy at a waterhole, explode like their manes are on fire. Of course, they take the wildabeest bulls with them.

One lone wildabeest bull decided to come back the water. As I am preparing for the shot, the same large waterbuck male from yesterday approached the water and challenges the wildabeest. The bull would get within 50 yards before the big waterbuck would approach him and run him away from the water. I am not waterbuck hunting, but am tempted to shoot this one out of spite. The wildabeest eventually gives up and wanders off.

About noon, the heat is getting to both Whitey and I in the small blind, so we decide to pack up the blind and move to a new location where good numbers of wildabeest have been stopping during the late afternoon.

We arrive at the new waterhole on the edge of a large plain. On the plain, three large wildaebeest bulls are lying down about 400 yards away. After a quick set-up of the blind, we settle in for an afternoon wait.

Whitey keeps an eye on the three bulls, as two of them are obviously asleep and facing the opposite direction. However, the third bull is facing us. We watch the bulls for more than two hours, but each time one of the bulls repositions himself, another will turn to look our way, making a stalk impossible. I think they have done this before.

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zebraAbout 45 minutes before dark, a lone bull sneaks up right behind the blind and catches our wind. He begins to bellow the alarm sound from about 100 yards. Now is when I wish I were a rifle hunter.

The herd following him makes a 75-yard arch around the blind, obviously alerted to our presence.

As shooting light fades, we leave the blind to glass the plain and a tremendous sight awaits us. Herds of wildabeest numbering in the thousands, along with zebra and gemsbok, dot the plain in front of us. It looks like old Africa might have looked like a hundred years ago. A special sight these days.

Upon arriving back at camp, I learn that my dad and stepmom have both connected on this day. Dad has shot a beautiful blue wildabeest bull and Dawn has taken a lovely zebra on a foot stalk this afternoon.

We spend the evening drinking Castle Beer and good South African red wine, toasting the successful hunts.

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